Ways to Reduce BCBA/RBT Turnover & Retention

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy practices are constantly struggling with employee turnover, and it is an enormous cost to the business. The reality of this problem has created an increased interest in ways to reduce Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)/Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) turnover & retention. This blog post will provide information on effective strategies for reducing staff turnover and general tips for retaining employees within ABA Therapy practices.

The Correlation Between Employee Turnover and Getting Burned Out

Why Does Employee Turnover Exist within ABA Therapy Practices?

The high-stress nature of working at an ABA Therapy practice for parents whose kids may not communicate well has its share of challenges. It is important for ABA Therapy practices to reduce turnover within their BCBAs and RBTs in order to:

  • Maintain a positive work culture
  • Avoid the costs of recruitment
  • Minimize the costs of training new employees
  • Optimize the use of equipment by reducing staff transition periods
  • Reduce stress on parents by having familiar faces work with their children
  • Reduce stress on the kids receiving ABA therapy services by remaining consistent with their BCBAs and RBTs

How Do I Know If My Employee(s) Are Getting Burned Out?

Here are some common signs that your employees might be burning out:

  • Increased errors and omissions on their part during work activities
  • Absences from work without notice
  • Frequent complaints about feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities with no end in sight for increasing demands at work
  • Unwillingness to engage socially outside of work
  • Lack of enthusiasm for new initiatives or projects
  • Increased cynicism, criticism, and apathy toward company policies or procedures
  • Decreased motivation to engage in work activities and/or loss of interest in tasks

Why Does ABA Therapy Have Such a High Turnover Rate?

The answer to this question is complex, but the primary cause of BCBA/RBT turnover in ABA Therapy practices can be attributed to the same as most industries. The employee feels they are under-compensated. However, in a field that requires extensive education and experience, it is often difficult for individuals with these qualifications to feel in control of their finances, as they likely have great student debt. 

On top of daily financial woes, employees who feel overworked, underappreciated, and unfulfilled, while simultaneously feeling they are underpaid, tend not to see their position as sustainable long term. While business owners and managers may not compensate as much as employees would like, they can provide the best working environment possible.

Turnover hurts everyone involved, so it’s important to do all one can to prevent it. Here are just some of the negative effects.

  • Management loses time and resources while training new staff members.
  • Clients miss out because there isn't enough staff on hand to cover all scheduled sessions or provide adequate one-on-one instruction.
  • Prospective BCBAs and RBTs are going to start a job with a negative perception of the industry or your workplace, in particular.

How Can I Reduce Turnover?

Hiring and Keeping the Right Talent

The most effective way to reduce staff turnover within ABA Therapy practices is by improving your hiring and retention process with thorough interviews/reviews and listening more closely when concerns and goals are expressed. Use this time to not only evaluate your employee, but your own company, and whether you can meet their expectations.

As well as avoiding employee burnout, these strategies will help you bring on and keep individuals whose values align with yours. It will also provide them the support they need so they feel fulfilled at work and committed long-term.

Finally, hire and keep employees based on their skills and personality, instead of focusing solely on availability and affordability to reduce turnover. Finding and retaining individuals whose values align with yours is paramount to long-term success.

Be Flexible

An excellent way for companies in this field to reduce employee turnover is by offering flexible scheduling options such as part-time hours or remote work arrangements, when possible. This will reduce the burnout that often leads to employee turnover.

We live in a different world than we did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and people expect more leeway in when and how they work. Don’t treat that as a negative. Take advantage of the flexibility you can afford to be more appealing.

Reduce ABA Therapy staff turnover by first making sure you understand why employees are quitting and then make targeted changes, so individuals feel fulfilled in their roles. Businesses that remain stagnant will continue to have the same problems over time.

Contributing Factors to BCBA Burnout

A recent study showed that around two-thirds of the participants were experiencing high levels of burnout and no job satisfaction because of working conditions.

Employees report working an average 12 hour day, which significantly increases stress levels while decreasing job satisfaction - another factor leading to employee turnover. In addition, staff members have reported the following contributing to burnout:

  • Feeling isolated from colleagues or management within institutions.
  • A lack of transparency around policies such as PTO.
  • Lack of training.
  • High turnover within the workplace.

However, according to recent studies published in Behavior Analysis, you can help reduce employee burnout by identifying ways BCBAs/RBTs can make meaningful contributions during their workday, which allows them to experience success daily while increasing loyalty and retention.

How to Battle the Burnout BCBAs are Experiencing

Applied Behavior Analysis companies can reduce burnout in the ABA Therapy field by first understanding why employees are quitting. First, it's important to note that while BCBAs/RBTs might leave for higher-paying jobs elsewhere, many report leaving because they feel underpaid and overworked without appropriate support systems or opportunities for career advancement.

This can be fixed by adjusting processes. A qualified Director of Operations should be able to significantly change attitudes by changing organizational charts, job descriptions, etc., so some major issues are eliminated. 

Finally, encourage growth within the company through cross-training opportunities, so employees don't feel they are stuck in one role for years on end without learning anything new.

How to Reduce Turnover and Improve Retention

Set Clear Expectations

The first step in reducing your employees' turnover is to set clear expectations with your new employees. A good way of doing this is through a mission statement, which should be specific and measurable. For example, 'providing quality service' or 'delivering effective therapy' are both vague statements that do not provide any direction for how they will be accomplished. Avoid phrases such as those.

Explain the mission statement you have established with your team members, as well as any policies that are specifically related to their position on staff, such as attendance policy, guidelines around phone etiquette, etc.

In addition, allow employees time during work hours to read over documents regarding patient care protocols and discuss them with colleagues before beginning therapy sessions at home/in-school settings with children who require ABA services. This way, they will be confident and likely more pleased with the outcome of their therapy session.

Improve Onboarding and Training

Improve onboarding and training to reduce staff turnover. This will help their experience long term and improve the general culture for BCBAs/RBTs, making them feel more fulfilled in their roles. Reducing turnover is easier than you think!

The first step to reducing staff turnover is by thoroughly assessing your current system and identifying areas that could be improved upon. Although this may take some time initially, it's an important step towards building a healthy company where employees feel valued and satisfied with life both inside and outside of work.

If you don’t provide adequate training for new hires, including a thorough orientation program that lays out expectations upfront, work on fixing this right away. This way there's no confusion about how they should do their job from day one.

Create Goals

In order to get where you want to be, one must set goals. Having concrete, achievable business objectives that align with their employees’ personal interests will keep them interested in their positions longer than if they feel like their work doesn't make a difference or is not important at all. 

Give employees more responsibility and autonomy by encouraging them to give input on how they can best help your company meet its objectives. At the same time, establishing goals for all staff members when it comes to patient care can reduce frustration among therapists who might feel as though their work isn't valued by management if they have established no end goal for them to strive toward each day. 

By setting weekly meetings with supervisors where the therapist's progress can be discussed, they will inform everyone about what needs to be done, and what is being achieved or not achieved in terms of goals.

However, the most effective goals you can set to reduce retention rates would be increasing job satisfaction, decreasing overworked staff members, offering appropriate bonuses/compensation packages, and promoting an environment where people are appreciated and listened to. 

Make sure you have the proper infrastructure to reduce employee turnover rates by choosing an ABA therapy practice management system that is easy for staff members to learn and use.

Focus on Employee Benefits 

Since we know salary is often something people are unhappy with, focus on employee benefits (health insurance, retirement plans, and wellness programs) and reduce job dissatisfaction by adding incentives for staff members who participate in activities such as meditation or yoga, which reduce burnout rates overall! 

Finally, consider adding training programs or a cross-training program to your ABA therapy company's list of available benefits where employees can learn additional skills to help them grow within their positions. This will reduce boredom associated with limited roles at one location, while also increasing satisfaction and reducing turnover rates among BCBAs/RBTs.

 

 

Resources that Whil offers help reduce staff turnover rates among BCBAs/RBTs through ongoing training opportunities where employees feel fulfilled within the role they've been hired into. 

Leadership and Management

What do leadership and management have to do with reducing turnover in ABA therapy companies? 

First, leadership and management are key to reducing staff turnover within Applied Behavior Analysis companies by showing employees they're valued not just through financial incentives, but also through the creation of a positive work culture where BCBAs/RBTs feel fulfilled both inside and outside of their role! 

Creating this type of environment will reduce burnout rates among BCBAs/RBTs, leading them to stay at your company long term. 

Peers

Peer support is a great way to reduce turnover rates among BCBAs/RBTs because it allows staff to share their successes and challenges with one another, which reduces burnout associated with a lack of inside perspective within Applied Behavior Analysis companies. 

You can also help ABA therapists feel supported by creating new ideas for challenging behavioral goals, or assisting in finding solutions when therapists face an individual that is difficult.

Engagement

Creating an open culture where BCBAs/RBTs feel valued and heard seriously reduces job dissatisfaction. Listening is key in any relationship! 

Creating these types of environments reduces burnout levels that lead to increased employee attrition over time, while fostering a positive work environment for all staff members by reducing internal stress associated with long hours spent working on challenging ABA therapy cases.

What Are You Waiting For?

You likely have many items you need to work on based on reading this blog post, and perhaps even some more questions. Reach out to us and we’ll be happy to dive deeper into this topic with you.

If you found this blog post on Ways to Reduce BCBA/RBT Turnover & Retention informative, please share with other friends in the industry looking for ways to reduce staff turnover!


Unlocking The VB-MAPP: Expert Tips & Insights (Video)

About This Webinar

Typically the primary focus of an intervention program for children with autism should be on the development of effective language and social skills. There clearly are several other areas in need, such as self-care, visual motor skills, academics, fine and gross motor, etc., but language and social skills are typically the most significant deficits for children with autism. The failure to conduct appropriate assessment results in one of the biggest problems in programs that serve children with autism: An inappropriate curriculum. Our first task is to identify the existing skills of each child. Our next task is to identify the language, social, behavior, and learning barriers that are preventing more rapid learning. The VB-MAPP is a tool that is easy to use and will provide teachers, parents, and staff with the necessary information to develop an appropriate intervention program. The VB-MAPP is an assessment tool based on B.F. Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior and typical developmental milestones. This presentation will provide the attendee with an overview and an understanding of the importance of incorporating Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior into language assessment.

What Will You Learn

After this presentation the participant will:

  • Understand the importance of conducting a comprehensive skill-based language assessment based on Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior.
  • Learn how to create a curriculum, based on the results of the language assessment. Using the VB-MAPP as a Basis for a Verbal Behavior Curriculum for Children With Autism.
  • Understand the need to identify and reduce barriers that are preventing more rapid learning for the student.
  • Understand the importance of creating a curriculum that is appropriate for the student’s current repertoire.

About the Speaker

Carl Sundberg, pH.d., BCBA-D

Chief Clinician & Co-Founder @ Behavior Analysis Center for Autism

Carl Sundberg, Ph. D., BCBA-D, is the chief clinician and co-founder of the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism. He received his doctorate degree in ABA from Western Michigan University under the direction of Dr. Jack Michael. While a graduate student, he taught behavior analysis at WMU for seven years. Dr. Sundberg has publications in The Analysis of Verbal Behavior (TAVB) A Collection of Reprints on Verbal Behavior, and the Journal for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (JEAB), and Behavior Analysis in Practice (BAP). Dr. Sundberg has over 30 years of experience using behavioral interventions to teach individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. He oversees the training of all the staff at BACA and consistently spends time with the clients. Eighty percent of his time is spent contributing to the training of staff and addressing specific client programs.


Corporate Holiday Gifting While Supporting Autism Community

Corporate Holiday Gifting in 2021

It’s that time of the year again! The holiday season is officially here, and it’s a perfect time to get a head start on gifts for your clients and employees. While the traditional route may be to gift cookies, chocolates, wine, or general gift cards from major retailers, there are other ways you can get creative this year.

At Rethink, our tools empower BCBAs and RBTs to provide care to the autism community. That had us thinking, what if this year we take things a step further and consider purchasing from organizations that employ individuals with disabilities? By doing this, we are helping the adult autism community that creates employment opportunities. 

The best part is that you can do this too! We’re here to help you pick out some fun gifts for your business to send out this season to either clients or employees. These gifts are creative, show that you give back to worthy causes, and will make you feel good about the money you’re spending.

Businesses Hiring Employees With Autism

For this corporate gift guide, we’re going to introduce you to businesses that hire people who have autism. Some of the organizations listed were even founded by people who have autism, which is inspiring to see. By the time you finish reading, you’ll know more about each business’ history, what exactly they specialize in selling, and how they may be an option for your holiday gift this year.

Beloved Bath


Beloved Bath in Maplewood, NJ was founded by two mothers who each had sons with autism. After they each discovered their boys enjoyed relaxing salt and lavender baths, they got the idea to sell bath salts. This led to employing the boys, as they realized opportunities weren’t widely available to people with autism. 

They’ve since expanded their operation to sell candles, bar soaps, and autism awareness products.

The Chocolate Spectrum


The Chocolate Spectrum is a family owned business in Jupiter, FL that was founded by a mother and son, who is on the autism spectrum. Over the years, they’ve employed over 15 individuals who also have autism, and provided apprenticeships for adults and teens with disabilities. 

Whether you are looking for a box of chocolates, truffles, or chocolate pretzels, you can find some tasty treats here!

Ethan and the Bean


Ethan and the Bean in Little Falls, NJ is a non-profit coffee shop looking to increase the rate of employment for individuals with developmental disabilities. They provide a workplace where individuals can thrive as they develop new skills.

Besides a physical coffee shop that people can visit in Little Falls, they also sell coffee, gift boxes, and merchandise from their website, so people can show support and enjoy their product no matter where they live!

SMILE Biscotti


SMILE Biscotti was founded in Phoenix, AZ, but can be purchased in stores as far as New Jersey. It all started when Matt Resnick started his own bakery business after graduating from high school. Matt created SMILE, which stands for Supporting My Independent Living Enterprise, to help himself and others like him living with autism.

In addition to selling the product in stores, if you live near one that sells them, you can also purchase their biscotti directly from the SMILE website.

Popcorn for the People


Popcorn for the People is a non-profit organization proudly employing individuals with autism and other disabilities. When Samuel Bier, a 30-year-old with autism, spotted a popcorn shop for sale in East Brunswick, NJ, it changed everything for him. No longer were career options limited as he opened Popcorn for the People with his family!

Sam has appeared on various programs, including The Today Show, to share his journey and spread awareness of autism. If you’re looking to pre-order something for the holidays, their holiday tin is now available!

Make a Difference This Holiday Season

In summary, each of these five organizations sells unique items that your clients or employees would likely be happy to receive this holiday season. Soap, chocolate, coffee, biscotti, or popcorn don’t have to be the only gift you give them. Perhaps you can make a gift basket out of all of them all, or you can gift one with another item you already had in mind for this year.

What matters is that you support organizations that give back because there is no more important time of the year to do so than the holiday season. If you have questions regarding the employment of people with autism, and why this is as meaningful as we say, please reach out. We would be happy to discuss statistics and how organizations like these are making an impact. Thank you, and happy holidays from Rethink!


Best Practices for Implementing Rethink's Behavioral Health Products

Before implementing any major software solution, it’s important to invite key decisions makers and stakeholders to product demos. The main goal is to identify questions and concerns. Depending on the result of those responses, your team can make the best decision for your practice.

We are going to assume you’ve already done this and you are just starting the onboarding practice with Rethink. Below we’ve prepared a checklist that you can use during the implementation.

Readiness Checklist

  • Implementation Strategy:
    • Pilot–Trialing the Rethink platform to determine if it is a fit for your organization
      • Test the system with a purposeful selection of learners, staff, locations
    • Full Implementation–Adopting the Rethink platform into your organization
  • Identify key outcomes that will define what a successful implementation looks like
    • Be prepared to share any unique scenarios with your organization that may impact the implementation
    • Create a matrix of staff by job title and job responsibilities to aide in the creation of roles and permission with Rethink
      • For example RBT, Lead RBT, Student Analyst, BCBA, Senior BCBA, etc.
    • Create a plan to communicate to your staff about the transition to using Rethink and get buy-in
    • Plan for stopping the existing system: Overlap? Hard Stop Date?
  • Set realistic timelines to roll out the new software
    • Utilize the provided Rethink Implementation Plans to track agreed-upon benchmarks
    • Adopt a “train the trainer” model
    • Create internal training plans for new staff
  • Identify Internal Implementation Team Members
    • Implementation team members should have knowledge across departmental areas: Finance/Payroll, Compliance, HR, Clinical, billing.
    • Based on the size of the organization assign a Project Manager to oversee the implementation of multiple products or identify internal content area experts that will field all staff questions and reach out to communicate with Rethink’s Implementation Specialists.
  • Identify Rethink Team Members
    • Create a cheat sheet of the Rethink team members’ contact information to guide you in reaching out for assistance
  • Review the Rethink technical specification requirements prior to purchasing new devices
    • Identify if you will be purchasing devices for staff and if so what type


Teaching Safety Skills to Individuals with Autism (Webinar)

Individuals with autism present with unique challenges that make them at risk for a wide range of safety concerns. They may, for example, wander from caregivers, be unable to seek assistance when lost and may not know how to respond to unwanted advances by strangers in the community. There have been a number of studies documenting a functional analysis of some unsafe behaviors such as elopement. This has led to the development of function-based treatments and strategies that can potentially prevent unsafe behavior.

This presentation will review recent research in the area of safety assessment and interventions and provide proactive, practical strategies and resources, to help ensure the safety of individuals with autism.

Takeaways:

  • Identify why individuals with autism are at a risk for safety concerns.
  • Identify current applied research directives to address safety concerns.
  • Identify components of functional analysis of elopement.
  • Identify skills to teach to address safety skills of individuals with autism.

There is no cost to attend and this webinar is not eligible for CEUs. The presentation will be posted on our blog within two weeks.

Presenters:

Bridget A. Taylor, PsyD, BCBA-D is the Executive Director of Alpine Learning Group. She is also a Senior Clinical Advisor for Rethink. Dr. Taylor was recently recognized by the Association for Applied Behavior Analysis International for her outstanding contributions to behavior analysis, and was given ABAI’s Fellow designation. Dr. Taylor is considered a leading authority on effective, and innovative interventions for autism.

Erin Mayberry, BCBA, LBA is Director of Customer Success at Rethink Behavioral Health. She is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and licensed behavior analyst in TX. Prior to Rethink, Erin provided consultation services in home and clinic settings and provided staff training in behavioral crisis prevention and management.


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5 Tips to Prepare Kids for Fireworks - Fireworks and Autism

Fireworks and Autism

Fourth of July can be fun for many children, but for children on the autism spectrum it may be very overwhelming. Lights, noises, crowds, and smells may contribute to overstimulation for many children on the autism spectrum. Not only that, but this is a break in the normal routine for children. 

Your child is probably already experiencing a disruption in their normal routine due to summer schedules, but this holiday is likely to be another change in their routine that can be very difficult to manage. 

Holiday Tips

Below are a few quick tips to prepare for activities and events your child may participate in during the upcoming holiday.

Prepare for a Change in Routine

  • Start early. Introduce this change a few days in advance, if possible.
  • Use videos, pictures, stories, etc. to prepare your child for what they can expect.
  • Practice! Try role-playing with your child so they can practice how to successfully get through the event.

Establish a Structure for Activities and Events

  • What is the schedule for the day?
  • What can your child expect during scheduled events or activities?
  • How can your child let you know if they need a break? What is the plan for providing a break from the event?
  • Use visuals, pictures, schedules, etc. to prompt your child through the activities and events of the day.

Minimize Overstimulation

  • Provide sunglasses, headphones, and other cool accessories that can reduce stimulation from light or noise.
  • Have preferred and familiar items available that the child can hold or play with when they feel overstimulated.

Prepare With Reminders

  • Prior to a transition to a new activity or event, remind your child what is coming next.
  • Give them a countdown to the transition or use visual cues.
  • Prompt your child to communicate if they need a break from the activity/event.

Have a Backup Plan

  • It’s ok to arrive late or leave early.
  • Consider having two options of activities for the day. At the time of the planned event, if your child is overwhelmed, they can always choose a different activity.


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Key Employment Issues Every ABA Provider Should Know About

Presenters

  • Vanessa Kelly, Labor & Employment Attorney and a Member with Clark Hill, PLC
  • Melinda Lapan, Vice President of HR Advantage Advisory, a subsidiary of Clark Hill, PLC

Description

Join us on Thursday, May 20 as we discuss common employment issues faced by businesses and entrepreneurs. Learn how to mitigate risk and avoid potential pitfalls of non-compliance.

Learn more about:

  • Employment laws affecting all employers
  • Violating a law you didn’t know existed
  • Where to look for help and guidance in this complex terrain

Vanessa Kelly is a Labor & Employment Attorney and a Member with Clark Hill, PLC, a full-service, global law firm. Vanessa’s clients seek her experienced, confident counsel in addressing their employee management needs. She provides legal services including risk assessment and risk avoidance in employee terminations, accommodating disabilities, addressing workplace misconduct, protecting key personnel and proprietary information, performing reductions in force, and implementation of workplace policies designed to avoid disputes and comply with state and federal law, to name a few. Vanessa also defends employers before federal and state courts and civil rights agencies. Vanessa earned her J.D. at George Washington University Law School, and is licensed in both NJ and NY.

Melinda Lapan is Vice President of HR Advantage Advisory, a subsidiary of Clark Hill. HR Advantage Advisory provides HR outsourcing and consulting services. Melinda has over 20 years of Generalist experience in Human Resources, having worked in various HR leadership roles across multiple industries prior to joining HR-AA. She has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, she holds two HR certifications and is a six sigma green belt.